My Worst Customer Service Experience Ever – Verizon

August 8, 2010

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Every time I have a bad customer service experience (which seems to be increasingly frequently these days), I am reminded of my worst customer service experience ever. We turn back the clock to the year 2000(ish), when I was set to ditch my 56K modem for DSL.  I contacted my local phone carrier, Verizon, to get the ball rolling.

Several days later, I had everything in place.  I fired up the DSL modem and … nothing.

I gave a call to tech support.  They couldn’t figure out the problem, so they gave me the number of someone else to call.  This cycle repeated itself for an entire weekend, at the end of which I had twenty different numbers for Verizon scribbled on a sheet of paper (I’m not exaggerating).  Once, someone referred me back to the same area that referred me to them – but used the acronym for that area instead of the full name and gave me a different number than the one I had.  I’m not sure if this was out of spite or incompetence.

This entire experience was frustrating for many reasons.  Some of the troubleshooters were apparently hired off the street five minutes before the shift began.  Yes, the DSL modem is plugged into the power outlet, just as it was when the last person asked me. I work in IT, so I wanted to bang my head against the wall in response to some of the possible root causes they suggested.

The most frustrating aspect was the obvious fact that they had no way to track problems.  Every time I called, I had to repeat every single detail of my experience to the new “customer service” rep – by the end of the weekend, this took a lot of time.  I work for a company that utilizes a tracking system for problems.  If I route your call to another area, the new person immediately has the entire history of the problem.  This is a very, very good thing.

At the end of a very long weekend, I told them to just forget it and cancel my account.  I was just going to stick with 56K.  I couldn’t even justify getting cable internet.  At that time, I received free cable in my apartment, and getting cable internet would have meant switching to a different provider – meaning that I’d be paying for cable TV in addition to cable internet.  Regardless, the joy of high speed internet was not worth the hassle of fighting with Verizon.

While I was on the phone, the customer service rep gave me two options to return the modem.  I could have them send me a postage paid box, or I could simply drop it off at my local Verizon Phone Mart.  In an attempt to make things easier for them, I said I’d drop it off at the Verizon Phone Mart.  Hey, why incur shipping fees when I could easily hand it back to a member of their organization?

Well, apparently the folks at the Verizon Phone Mart didn’t realize that they were being used as an outlet to return DSL modems.  They had no idea what to do with the modem.  I told them I’d call Verizon back when I got home and have those folks touch base with the brick and mortar store.  The Phone Mart people agreed to give this a shot.

When I called Verizon back, they assured me that they would touch base with the Verizon Phone Mart and process the return.  Wonderful – problem solved.

About ten days later, I got a call from the Verizon Phone Mart, wanting to know what to do with the modem.  I told them that a Verizon representative should have contacted them about the details of the return.  Unfortunately, the customer service rep hadn’t actually followed through and contacted them.  Again, this wasn’t a case of me randomly showing up at the Verizon Phone Mart with the modem – I had been given this option by a customer service rep.

I drove to the store and picked up the modem.  The people at the Verizon Phone Mart seemed to be as much of a pawn in this as me, so there was no point getting upset at them.  I called Verizon again and had them send me the postage paid box and finally sent the modem back.  Wonderful – problem solved.

Well, not exactly.  For about six months afterward, I kept getting charged for DSL service.  It took a lengthy phone call each month to finally get charge taken off the bill.  Each time, I was assure that the system showed that I did not have DSL service and would not be charged in the future.  Each month, the charge reappeared.

The story does have a happy ending, though.  One customer service rep managed to actually stop the charges from appearing.  However, even this was not mistake free.  When the representative applied the credits, she credited something twice.

At this point, I had an ethical dilemma.  I had money that rightfully belong to Verizon – around $20, I believe.  Should I call to inform them of their mistake, or just keep my mouth shut?

After six months of battling with them on billing issues, I decided to just keep my mouth shut.  I didn’t really want to waste more of my time arguing with them in an attempt to return their money.  Even worse, I feared that the process of reversing this credit would cause the whole mess to start up again.

To this day, I refuse to consider Verizon when I make purchasing decisions.  Over the past decade, I’ve also told this story to a great many people in order to explain my hatred for Verizon.

HSBC Again …

October 25, 2009

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As mentioned earlier, we recently canceled our HSBC card after yet another problem.

Yesterday, we received a letter in the mail discussing these problems.  One passage in particular jumped out at me.  Note: the errors in grammar, usage, and punctuation are those of the original writer.

“… With regard to the fraud alert placed on your account, our records indicate your account had a temporary block placed on April 18, 2009 due to the velocity of transactions made in one day, the time between transactions and the potential for fraud with one of these transactions.  You may have frequented these merchants before, however; systemically the account is reviewed for the above situations.  Please note, HSBC does not receive the name of merchants identified in these transactions …”

If HSBC claims to not receive the names of merchants identified in these transactions, then how exactly did they have this information at their fingertips (the transactions that were successfully processed as well as those that had been declined) when my wife called on her cell phone on the way home from the mall – a short time after the last attempted use of the card?

It would seem that the name and location of merchants would fairly useful when analyzing purchase patterns for potential fraud.  If my card is used in China one moment and Australia the next, I would hope that this would be flagged as suspicious activity.  If my card is used at the same merchants I have frequented for several years, I would hope that this is not flagged as suspicious activity.

Unless I receive further communications from HSBC, I consider this issue to be closed.  It was an interesting ride – equal parts bizarre, annoying, and unpleasant – but it’s over.

Why I Hate HSBC (again)

October 19, 2009

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The final chapter was finally written in my saga with HSBC.

On Friday night, I made  a quick trip to get some over-the-counter medications at the drug store and some groceries at the grocery store.  My HSBC card was declined at both places.  (Why did I try at the second place after it was declined at the first?  Just in case the problem was related to the store).  When my wife (primary cardholder) informed HSBC, she was told that this was due to a problem the Mastercard was having during this timeframe.  This may indeed be correct, but I’m unable to find any news stories about this.  Did anyone else experience problems with Mastercards being declined on Friday night?

In any case, this was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.  We decided to cancel the card.  It did take a bit of effort for my wife to convince the HSBC rep to actually cancel the card.  We received a notification on Saturday that the account had indeed been closed.  A big sigh of relief as we put this behind us.

We were running quite a lot of purchases through the card in order to take advantage of the cash back rewards (while paying off the full balance every month, of course).  I suspect that HSBC would consider our level of use to be rather substantial.

For those of you who didn’t read the original article, here’s a recap of the chronology.

  • I do some research and find the HSBC Weekender card, which features 1% cash back on all purchases and 2% on all weekend purchases.  This sounded like a great deal.  (And, in fact, it was.  Redeeming the cash rewards was pretty easy).
  • My wife signs up for the card and then does additional paperwork to add me as a second card holder.  This means that she gets her card before I get mine.
  • My wife activates the card via the 1-800 number.  She attempts to use the card later that weekend and to her great embarrassment, it gets declined.  Why?  Because there was some sort of a problem with the automated authorization system.  (Note: this isn’t listed in the earlier article because I had completely forgotten about it).
  • We begin getting calls from telemarketers.  The telemarketers appear to be shy and won’t tell us what they are actually calling about.  This was very bizarre.  We wouldn’t have bought the product or service anyway, but we couldn’t get them to tell us what they were selling.  We were getting a LOT of these calls before calling and complaining a few times.
  • HSBC had a security breach (many accounts affected) and had to issue new cards (with different numbers).
  • My new card had my name wrong (first and last names transposed).  The HSBC rep seemed to have considerable difficulty grasping the problem and the implications.
  • After getting the new card, I try to use the automated authorization number.  This doesn’t work, and I get kicked to a live operator, who tries to sell me additional services while she is activating the card.  Bear in mind that I am speaking to her after a series of THREE problems by HSBC (security breach, wrong name on card, automated authorization failure).
  • In April, we were at the mall for our weekly trip to Target and a few other stories.  As we make perhaps the most predictable purchases in the history of the world, HSBC’s fraud alert gets triggered and our card gets locked, causing it to be declined.  These purchases were so predictable that anyone armed with a copy of our past statement could have probably predicted them.  Suspicious was definitely not the word I would use to describe them.
  • Five months pass.  Spring gives way to summer, summer gives way to fall.
  • I am contacted by someone from the Executive Office of HSBC.  He appears to be genuinely concerned.  It has been five months since we have encountered any actual problems, but I’m happy to work with the if it means fewer troubles for other HSBC customers in the future.  He forwards my case to someone in customer service.  They leave an answering machine message to let us know they are on the case.  Later, they call and ask to speak to me.  Unfortunately, I am temporarily unable to answer the phone, and my wife is unable to focus on the phone call (busy with our toddler) and tells them to call back another time.  Alas, there is not another call.
  • Finally, on Friday, the card is declined again and we cancel the card.

JC Penney

August 2, 2009

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I have to hold true to the word I gave the customer service rep from JCPenney and tell this story to the general public. I figure the bad press I can give counts for something.

My first impressions of JCPenney were very good. My mom in her travels to the States had decided to get a JCPenney credit card as she liked the things there, including the variety. Well I hadn’t really spent much time there myself, I decided to check it out when I went to Grand Forks last December for some Christmas shopping. Well, I was just about blown away. They had great sales, but even better, interesting gifts! I especially loved the thermos you could plug into your car to keep the contents extra hot (it also had a thermometer on the outside). On top of that, they had this massive kitchen set in a box for only 100$ which contained everything from cookie sheets to frying fans to a knife set. What a deal! I left there promising to be back next December to find more gifts to impress my Canadian family and friends. I will admit right now I will be breaking that promise.

My mom watches her finances closely. She isn’t someone who is short of money. So I knew when complained to me about JCPenney charging her a $35 late fee for the credit card we shared something was wrong. Well, she phoned and got it resolved…or did she? Turns out that once she received her bill, her payment was due the very next day. So she express posted a payment to them, incurring an extra $12 expense to try and get it there on time. Well the payment ended up being one day late, and she was met with this fee. So she phoned in, and JCPenney took it off. But the same issue was awaiting my mom the next month, and every month after. So what, she is stuck paying a total of an extra 47 dollars just to have this card? Well the CSRs for JCPenney weren’t so nice anymore. They told her it was as simple as a “mail issue” and there was nothing else they could do. Now I have worked as a CSR before (actually for Comcast) and I know that there is always something you can do.

So I finally had enough. Mom and I decided to cut up the cards, and she would mail one final payment. But this wasn’t enough for me. I decided it was time for me to phone and hear this for myself. To know me in person is to know I am not someone who flies off the handle at small things. I generally treat people with dignity and respect, and always make the extra effort with CSRs having done that job and knowing the crap they deal with. But in the end, I couldn’t take it with this woman. I let her have it, and went up and down a couple times. I appreciate she tried the famous “What would you like me to do to solve this for you” but when I told her, she said she couldn’t do it (Hint: don’t ask that kind of question if a reasonable answer is given but you still can’t/won’t do it). The obvious problem in the end here is that more time is needed between the billing date and the payment due date. But since that would break the contract we signed with them, that would not happen. I asked her “If the situation was reserved, what would you do”? She said “I’d re-think my usage of the card”. I told her we had re-thought our usage, and since this was the lame attempt to keep our business when there were so many other options out there, that our usage was done.

So word to the wise especially to all my fellow Canadians and international shoppers out there: Don’t get suckered into acquiring this card if you want to deal with all of these extra charges. And, when it comes to be December, go on strike against JCPenney with me.

Open letter to Iowa City KFC

May 3, 2009

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To the KFC on Highway 1 in Iowa City

I love your food.  My favorite is probably the mashed potato bowl.  Mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and little nuggets of chicken, all combined into one bowl.  What’s not to like?  I’m also a fan of the original chicken.  My wife also likes your food.

Unfortunately, I will never darken your door (or drive thru) again.  Why?  Because your service is absolutely dreadful.  Let me count the ways.

First, on multiple visits (months apart) I have come across a situation where the drive thru speaker is broken.  This isn’t apparent until you actually wait in line for a while.  It is frustrating to arrive at the ordering station and realize that you’re not going to be able to order your food until you get to the final window.  This creates an additional delay.  Getting this permanently fixed would be a high priority if I owned the KFC.

Second, the service is too slow.  It is common for me to wait 15-20 minutes in the drive thru when there are only a handful (3-4) cars ahead of me.  This is not the exception, this is the rule.  I’m not exaggerating, either.  Since this starting become an issue, I keep track of what time it is when I pull into the line.  I can actually put my car in “park” a couple of times while I am waiting.  One time, while waiting in line,  I was approached by an older gentleman (apparently from out of town) who wanted directions.  I was able to give him detailed directions and send him on his way – and the line had not moved forward even an inch during this time.  From what I can see of the inside of the restaurant, the service doesn’t seem much quicker there, either.  This is supposed to be fast food, but it’s really not fast.  I can get a pizza from my favorite restaurant as quickly as I can get a potato bowl from KFC.

Finally, your employees simply make too many mistakes.  There are frequently problems with the order.  A recent order had the wrong variety of chicken (extra crispy instead of original recipe) and didn’t have any gravy on the mashed potatoes.  The order was taken correctly, as the correct items are on the receipt – the order was simply fulfilled incorrectly.  We complained about that incident and received a postcard for a free meal.  I redeemed that a couple of night ago.  After a very long wait, I finally pulled up to the window and ordered (since the speaker was broken).  As the lady was putting things into the bag, I asked for honey and butter.  She tossed something in the bag, and I assumed she gave us both, instead of checking.  Nope, she didn’t include any butter.

Quite honestly, you’re no longer worth the hassle.  There are a lot of other restaurants in town, and most of them provide a much better experience for the customer.

Note that I do not believe that this is indicative of all KFC restaurants.  Over the years, I have eaten at many KFCs and have had a lot of positive experiences.

TV Guide again

April 26, 2009

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Back in February, we experienced telemarketing from hell at the hands of TV Guide.  My friend at Lazy Man and Money took an interest, and I wrote another version for his readers – greatly expanding the audience of the story.

Incredibly, we received another call tonight.  Yep – 7:30 PM on a Sunday.  Apparently TV Guide does not have a way to flag people as alientated customers.

If you’re a TV Guide subscriber, take a look at your situation.  With the on screen guides for most cable and dish system, do your really need TV Guide any more?  Or does it just sit in your mail pile until it gets tossed into the recycle bin?  If you do decide to cancel, leave a comment.  I’d like to keep track 🙂

Why I hate HSBC

April 22, 2009

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We have a card with HSBC that gives us 1% cash back on all purchases and 2% back on weekend purchases.  We’ve started charging a lot of things so that we get the cash back.  Note: we have not changed our spending patterns because of the availability of credit on the card; we simply use the card for purchases they we need to make anyway (such as diapers for the young ‘un).  We pay off the entire balance every month.  A credit card should never be used as an excuse for reckless spending. On the face, it’s a pretty cool card.  We’ve had quite a few negative experiences with the card, though.

Telemarketers

Soon after getting the card, we started getting telemarketing calls.  My wife is listed as the primary cardholder, so they would always ask for her.  When I would ask what the purpose of the call was (my standard question to weed out telemarketers) they would refuse to tell me.  The only wa y we knew that it was HSBC is that we kept track of the number, which we were later able to determine was HSBC, due to subsequent calls.

When my wife actually did answer the phone, she would ask for the purpose of the call, and the telemarketers would completely clam up and not tell her, either.  This was really bizarre.  I have encountered a lot of strange sales pitches over the years, but a sales call during which the caller doesn’t want to talk about the product or service they are selling is definitely a new trick.  After talking to a manager and threatening to cancel the card if these calls did not stop, they calls eventually stopped.  It’s almost as if these folks were in training and dealing with human beings for the first time.

Wrong name

HSBC had a security breach (widespread, not just us) and issued new cards with new numbers.  My wife’s card looked great.  My card, on the other hand, did not.  My name was backwards (Public Q. John instead of John Q. Public).  As someone with a background in IT, it amuses me that they managed to someone get one name right and the other name wrong – indicating that they do not have a particularly consistent process.

My wife called to get this problem fixed.  She’s the primary cardholder, so she gets to have all the fun dealing with HSBC.

The person she talked to seem to struggle to understand the actual problem at first.  This seems a bit odd, since my wife understood it fully in the three seconds I took to explain it to her (“hey, my name is backwards on the credit card”) – shouldn’t someone in the credit card industry be able to grasp this concept?

Finally, he agreed to send a new card, and then stated that he was going to activate the new cards and cancel the old ones.  Thus began another frustrating exchange for my wife, who pointed out that he should not do this, since this would cause me to be without a card.  The HSBC person said that I would be able to use the new card.  It took my wife a long time to point out that I would not be able to use the new card, since the name on the card did not actually match my name.  Sure, logically a merchant might decide that I am indeed the correct person, but they would be well within their rights to reject the card because the signature doesn’t match the name.

Can we sell you more stuff while we’re fixing our goof?

So I finally get the new card with the correct information and call to activate it.  For some reason, I can’t use the automated method and get dumped to a human.  (sigh).  During the activation, she tries to sell me a credit protection product.  I politely tell her I’m not interested and just want to activate the card.

As she is cancelling the old card, she tries once again to sell me this product, which causes me to get a bit upset with her and tell her that she is really not providing good customer service, and that she should just perform the service that I am actually asking for.  &^%%^$%##$@()(*, I already told you once that I am not interested.  I spend a lot of money with your card.  Are you trying to alienate me on purpose?  No means no.

Paranoid fraud alert

We’re at the mall this past weekend and hit Target and a few other stores.  We use the card a total of five times before it starts getting denied.  It turns out that they had flagged out account for suspicious activity.

Target was a fairly big charge, but not substantially larger than what we spend in typical trip.  We always spend a fair amount at Target, because it is our main place to shop.  We have a toddler, and Target is our main supplier of diapers, baby wipes, baby clothes, etc (which can really add up in a hurry).

The other four charges were pretty small charges (one was at Taco Bell).  All of the stores are places where we have repeatedly used the card in the past.  Additionally, the two locations where the card was denied were also places were we often shop.  (Why did I try at a second store after being denied at the first store?  I’m an optimist and assumed that Barnes and Noble had a problem with their card reader.  Nope, the card reader is fine – the card was the problem.)

At this point, I’m really not sure what was so suspicious about the activity.  The total dollar amount was well within our normal spending patterns, and all of the stores were places we had shopped before.

In closing

Needless to say, we’re looking for a new card.  Has anyone had good expereinces?  We’re looking for something with cash back, rather than airline miles or other “rewards”.

UPDATE: I have recently been contacted by someone from the HSBC executive office.  He is interested in taking a look at this situation and determining why these issued occurred.  I haven’t had a chance to respond to him yet.  I do appreciate the fact that HSBC is looking at this as a learning opportunity.  I will update this post with future developments.

SUBSEQUENT UPDATE: read the exciting conclusion to the saga.

TV Guide

February 3, 2009

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I got a phone call last night. Here is the gist:

Me: Hello?

TVG: Can I speak to Melonie?

Me: Who? [wanting to verify that I heard them correctly]

TVG: Melonie.

Me: Oh, you mean MeloDy. Is this a telemarketer?

TVG: No, I’m not a telemarketer. I’m with TV Guide.

Me: We’ll resubscribe when we feel like it.

TVG: Can you put her on the line?

Me: We will resubscribe when we get around to it.

TVG [in a demanding tone]: Just put her on the line.

Me [in an agitated tone]: No. You’re not going to tell me what to do.

TVG: OK, I’ll just call right back.

Me: If you do that, you’ll be in trouble.

TVG: Trouble? What kind of trouble?

Me: Yes. I’ll file a complaint with the state Attorney General’s office.

TVG: What sort of complaint?

Me: Harassment by means of repeated phone calls.

TVG [laughing]: How do you even know who I am?

Me: You already told me you were with TV Guide, moron.

[I hang up]

I’ll admit, the moron comment was unprofessional

However, let’s break this down the other side of the conversation.

1) Make an effort to get the customer’s name right.

2) This was the second call we have received in the last few weeks regarding our TV Guide subscription. It expires in August. When we got the first call, we told them not to call back – that we would just renew manually when it got close to renewal time. Yes, we understand that there may be a price increase in the future. We’ll take that risk.

3) Don’t demand to speak to someone in my household. You do not have the right to speak to them. If you’re a law enforcement professional, I will listen to your demands. If not, I’m going to decide who can or can’t talk to. That’s just the way it is – the person who answers the phone is a gatekeeper. (Note: I did know, for a fact, that my wife didn’t want to take this call. If this was the sort of call she would want to take, I would have given it to her, of course.)

4) Don’t lie about being a telemarketer. You’re trying to sell (market) a subscription renewal on a telephone. Tele + market = telemarket.

5) If you don’t think the FCC or AG’s office can track you down specifically, you’re wrong. Call logs (external as well as your employer’s internal logs) can be used to determine exactly which telemarketer made a specific call. Keep that in mind the next time you feel like getting nasty with a customer.

6) Oh, hey, guess what? In the course of this call, you managed to put a really bad taste in our mouth about TV Guide. Honestly, the product has gone downhill recently, anyway. The listings have gotten very generic (“NFL Game” instead of listing the teams, for example) and the new larger format of the magazine has been a change for the worse. The onscreen guide on our TV (free with our digital cable subscritpion) is considerably more accurate than TV Guide anyway. We plan to let our TV guide subscription lapse when it expires. My wife has been a subscriber for 10 years or more.

Golden rule of telemarketing: don’t annoy your existing customers.

[UPDATE]
This gets even better (worse)
They called again tonight.  When my wife said that we had asked them not to call again, the telemarketer’s response was “waa, waa, waa” (the sound of fake crying).

My wife was not rude and didn’t provoke this, so it was very bizarre and unprofessional.  How do these people keep their jobs?

I wrote up a nice 300 word summary of the problem and submitted it through TV Guide’s “contact us” function.  I suggested that they retrieve the call logs for calls made to our number and listen to them (if they record the calls).  I also suggested that firing these people might enhance the customer experience.

The chance of us renewing our subscription dropped from about 3% to 0.01%.

The mall kiosk people

January 2, 2009

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There are plenty of fine kiosk merchants at malls. The calendar people are great – you poke around looking for calendars, stop occassionally to ask where one is located, but your calendars, and leave. Essentially, an ideal customer experience.

Then there are the stalker merchants.

These tend to be lotion sellers. They will stray far from their kiosk in an attempt to lure customers (women) in. At first, my wife and I were a bit annoyed by them, but simply altered our path so that we veered sharply toward the edge of the mall walkway to avoid them. We were walking literally a foot from the edge of mall walkway (right next to the “regular” stores). The message really should have been quite clear – we were not interested in buying products from these folks.

They began to stalk us to the edge. One one occassion, there was a mild verbal altercation.

What kind of crazy people do this? If I am actively trying to avoid you, engaging in harassing behavior is probably not going to turn me into a customer.

That is when my wife discovered an interesting fact. The mall office actually did care about this. Not only that, but there was specific language in the merchant leases that forbid this sort of aggressive behavior, with fines for violation.

If you encounter this sort of behavior, fight back.

– Call the mall office, or visit them in person. The office is usually tucked away in a hidden corner of the mall (obviously, the mall operators don’t want to waste the prime retail slots on their offices), but it should be on the directory.

– If multiple people were affected, multiple people should complain. It is great to say that five people were in the group that was harassed, but having five different phone calls will leave a sttronger impression.

– Describe the incident accurately and honestly. It should not be necessarily to embellish your story, and these embellishments could get you into hot water. Stick to the facts.

– Describe how this may affect your future shopping habits. If there is a competing mall (with different management) in your metro area, the suggestion that you may shift shopping to that mall may hit home with the mall operators.

– If you continue to experience the harassing behavior, call back. Keep track of dates and times.

I was at the mall today. As I veered to avoid the lotion people, I realized that they were no longer there. Perhaps the merchant simply decided not to renew their lease … but I like to think that the mall non-renewed them because of their behavior.

The $29 fee that cost Bank of America so much more …

December 12, 2008

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I once had a credit card through MBNA. I loved this card. It was an alumni card that proudly displayed my alma mater.

Then, Bank of America bought MBNA. Suddenly, things got bad. The web site functions no longer worked like they should. In particular, paying the card online became much more difficult. Many times, it didn’t work at all. Other times, it process the wrong amount (generally the minimum payment instead of the amount of the bill). I was double checking what I was doing, and clearly this was the fault of Bank of America. News stories at the time pointed to problems they were having with integration – apparently I was a victim.

One month, we didn’t get a bill. We didn’t notice until the next month, when we got a bill with the $29 late fee.

Typically, a credit card issuer will give you ONE freebie late fee. You simply call, and they will waive the fee.

This was not the case with Bank of Ameria. Not only did they refuse to waive the fee, but they refused to escalate our calls to a manager, and even hung up on me once (for no real apparent reason – I wasn’t using abusive language or anything, I was simply demanding to speak to a manager).

Finally, after repeated calls, we managed to get the fee waived. Honestly, I can remember exactly how this miracle occurred.

However, I was sick of Bank of America by this point. I cancelled by card. OK, we ran a fair amount of purchases through the card, so they lost a few bucks in transaction fees. No big loss, right?

We have our mortgage through CountryWide. As you know, CountryWide has been purchased by Bank of America. We are refinancing our mortgage on Monday (shaving 3/4 point off our rate). We are switching lenders. We didn’t even consider CountryWide/BofA as an option. We simply don’t trust Bank of America at this point. With all the problems we encountered with the credit cards, we have fears that they won’t handle the escrow properly or will make other errors.

Does anyone want to guess how much this will cost Bank of America over the course of the loan? It’s a rather large amount … certainly much larger than the $29 fee they fought to keep. If we had encountered positive customer service during the credit card debacle, we would probably be keeping our loan with CountryWide/BofA.

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